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Bolivia: Presidential Resignation and


Updated November 14, 2019

On November   10, 2019, Bolivian President Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS)
party resigned and subsequently received asylum in Mexico. Bolivia's military had recommended that
Morales step down to prevent an escalation of violence after weeks of protests alleging fraud in the
October 20, 2019, presidential election. While Morales has described his ouster as a coup, the
opposition has described it as a popular uprising against an authoritarian leader. The three individuals in
line to succeed Morales (the vice president and the presidents of the senate and the chamber of deputies)
also resigned. Opposition Senator Jeanine Afiez, formerly second vice president of the senate, declared
herself senate president and then assumod the position of interim president on November 12, 2019; MAS
legislators do not recognize her authority.
The U.S. Dcpartmnct of State supported the findings of an Organization of American States (OAS) audit
that found enough irregularities in the October elections to recommend a new election. President Trump
praised Morales's resignation. State Department officials have called for all parties to refrain from
violence and issued a travel warning for Bolivia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo applauded Afiez for
stepping up as interim president. Congressional concern about Bolivia has increased. S.Res. 35, approved
in April 2019, expresses concern over Morales's efforts to circumvent term limits in Bolivia.

Morales Government (2006-2019)

Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous leader, had governed since 2006 as head of the MAS party. With two-
thirds majorities in both legislative chambers, Morales and the MAS transformed Bolivia (see CRS In
Focus IF 11325, Bolivia: An Overview). They decriminalized coca cultivation, increased state control over
the economy, and used natural gas revenue to expand social programs. Morales and the MAS enacted a
new constitution (2009) that recognizes indigenous peoples' rights and autonomy and allows for land
reform. Previously underrepresented groups, including the indigenous peoples who constitute 40% of the
population, increased their representation in government. Traditional Bolivian elites opposed these
changes and have become leaders of the recent protests.
Although Bolivia's economic performance has been strong under Morales, there has been an erosion of
some democratic institutions and relations with the United States have deteriorated. Under Morales,
annual economic growth averaged some 4.5% from 2006 to 2018 and poverty rates fell from 60% in 2006
                                                                  Congressional Research Service

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